Check out this scifi adventure by Anthony Robinson that I #amreading on Inkitt.
“Writing a good story is like painting a picture — the writer starts with a basic sketch and as she writes adds the color.”
I love a good mystery or thriller. Throw in the FBI, CIA and a few Navy Seals and I’m a happy camper. The genre of my current series is Romantic Suspense, and one of the challenges of this genre is building suspense and keeping the story moving without giving too much away.
The allure of the mystery/suspense story is trying to solve the puzzle before the characters in the story. When I was young, I was always trying to out-sleuth Trixie Belden or Hercule Poirot. A writer’s task involves dropping some hints and using dialogue and plot points to advance the story. Just when the reader is positive they know who the villain is — insert a plot twist.
“What is it?”
“It’s a tracker. Someone placed it on your vehicle, so they could follow your movements…” ~ Dave Cartwright to Clare in Exodus
Don’t you love the feeling you get when you’re at a critical juncture in a scene? The suspense has been building and building. I know something major is about to happen. My heart starts to beat a little faster, and my eyes fly over the words reading rapidly. I am anticipating what the next scene will reveal. Boom! Your theories just got blown out of the water. One of the best compliments I have received from readers is “I thought I had it figured out, but you had me second-guessing myself through the whole book”.
Secrets can be revealed along the way to advance the plot and to throw some red herrings into the mix. But the final solution or climax should remain a mystery until the last couple of chapters; otherwise, you lose your readers once they solved it.
Here’s a caveat — some thrillers and mysteries use the antagonist’s point of view to unveil their plot. These stories build suspense through the unpredictability of the villain’s next actions. The key is to have certain elements of the story remain in the dark.
I like to give my characters some flaws. Is the “good guy” telling the truth or acting out of character? The writer instills doubt with an unexpected action or a sudden change in temperament, for example.
A good story brings the reader along for the ride. A book is an alternate universe and the reader is wanting to immerse themselves in it. Whether it’s falling in love with the handsome detective or holding their breath during a chase scene, the reader needs to feel the tenderness and the heartache along with the fear and confusion. If the writer can involve the reader and get an emotional response from them, you’ve done your job.
If you have read one of my earlier posts – Books and Life – I wrote about a summer I spent in Newtown, CT. My cousins grew up in Newtown. My aunt taught in an area elementary school for many years. Newtown is an important part of my families’ history. The pain of Sandy Hook is their pain, as well.
The events of that horrendous day made the nation weep. It is important for us to remember and to bring change, so we won’t have to continue to watch other communities and families torn apart.
In early October, ‘Newtown’ will be released in theaters. I’m going to see it so I can acknowledge the bravery, sacrifice and heartache felt by this small community. I hope you will join me in supporting this documentary film.
Note from Kate:
I saw this poem this morning after I read my email. My email notice sounded sexist and I seriously was planning on ‘Unfollowing’ the author. Instead, I was blown away by the sensitivity shown by Luke Atkins. The author informed us that he wrote it at 4 am. Just wanted to give him a round of applause for poetry every woman feels and lives.
Venus. A limbless, lifeless lump of antiquity. A marble slab of meticulous, conscientious sexual tension. A photo opportunity—devoid of meaningful human exchange. No change or range. An estrange…
When I came up with the idea for Exodus, it wasn’t even an election year. I didn’t want to write a “fiction-mimicking-life type of story. I planned to write a Romantic Suspense which had aspects of domestic terrorism.
As each chapter rolled out, my writing forum members would ask if I was getting inspiration from the current political cycle. That would be a ‘negative’. My original premise came from my time in the Army Reserve in the 80’s. An individual or group had tried to gain access to the reserve center to obtain military equipment. They weren’t successful, thank goodness.
“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t. ~ Mark Twain
This led me to research domestic terrorism. I found some mind-blowing statistics about the rapid increase in extremist groups and domestic terrorism over the last two decades. I had no idea.
Violence in the name of political beliefs isn’t a new idea. Think Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton’s duel, assassinations or attempts on political figures, and the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma in the 90’s, you will find a small sampling of my thought process.
I write fiction. I create plausible and implausible worlds where I decide the outcome. I do think the adage “truth is stranger than fiction” is true. This is a crazy world with unpredictable people, and I’m happy the world isn’t comprised of cookie-cutter people. How dull would the paintings, music, film and books be without the diverse creative citizens of our world.
I can only say, I hope and pray this political season doesn’t reflect my book. If so, we are in for a helluva ride!!
** I’m offering a discount coupon code SE34Q , so you can buy the recently published Exodus on Smashwords for only 99 cents! Follow this link for my book page — Smashwords Offer good through 10/7/16.
Just as the temperatures fall from the humid 90’s of August to the pleasant 70’s of September, and Autumn heralds its imminent arrival with the subtle changes in the color of the trees around us, I feel the panic of Falling Behind.
I’m an erratic list maker. I have lists on my iPhone, in the notebook I use for jotting notes for my writing inspirations and in my journal I have fondly dubbed “My Brain”. It holds the items my aging synapses are unable to retain in any order. In my fifth decade, I blame it on all of the names, phone numbers, account numbers and birthdates I have tried to compile in the (let’s face it!) minute amount of gray matter I was born with.
I have a special To Do List which I made three years ago. I cataloged all of the updates I wanted to make to our home. I went around room by room listing all of the changes and maintenance items I needed to tackle. I have crossed off about two things on the list.
Oh, I have my reasons. Summer overwhelms with family events, camping trips, and outdoor concerts. Last summer, I had a broken wrist and for much of the summer, I wore a cast. After it had come off, my dominant right hand and arm were weakened to the point I couldn’t accomplish many of the items on my list.
This year, in addition to the multitude of summer affairs we attend, our youngest son got married on an island in the Carribean. Yup, I didn’t get very much done. Now, I am looking at a list older than the two year old, furbaby next to me. Thinking to myself, ‘If it wasn’t raining, I could’ve painted outside today…’
How many of you have To Do Lists with still too many “To Do’s” on it?